September 27, 2022
Setting up a fully-functional woodworking shop is the biggest goal of most woodworkers. Many woodworkers worldwide are not fortunate enough to have a workshop in which they can freely engage in woodworking endeavors. Of course, they surely want to own a workshop, but maybe they cannot afford one or have no available space. So, if you are a beginner with the budget and space for setting up a workshop, you are particularly lucky.
Setting up a woodworking shop from scratch is challenging. It requires laying out or planning your workshop before moving things into it. It also involves consideration of your workflow, storage, tools, working space, elaborate electrical circuitry, ventilation, etc. As a caveat, it will be best to plan your workshop thoroughly beforehand because the more perfect your plan, the more efficient and convenient your workshop will be.
Steps on Setting Up a Woodworking Shop
Starting from scratch allows you endless possibilities when building your woodworking shop. Yet, setting up also gets confusing if you have endless possibilities. So, if it is your first time setting up a woodworking shop, it will be best to be guided by the following succinct steps on setting up a woodworking shop:
Step 1: Select the Ideal Spot in Your House
If it is your first time setting up a workshop, it will be best to consider the space you need. Besides, it will help if you subscribe to the principle that everything is created twice: first in mind, then in reality. If you follow this principle, you will carefully choose the space where you will put up your workshop.
When selecting an area, you can choose a spare room, a garage, a space in your backyard, or rent a workspace. Experts would agree that a 20′ x 20′ area will be adequate for starters. But the right size is 20′ x 30′ or more.
When planning, imagine the workflow you will have. Imagine likewise the stationary power tools you will haul into your working area. Planning is essential to minimize redoing. Once you have a definite layout of the space you’ve chosen, you can begin to move to the next step.
Step 2: Prep the Space
You must paint the walls and clean the space of everything unrelated to your woodworking. After mapping out the area and measuring the available space, you can now figure out where and how you will position your tools. Your plan will come in handy here.
Once you’ve cleared the area of unnecessary things, you can check out your planned layout and see if your plan is feasible within the given space. Check and figure out where your storage of tools will be.
Power tools will take up much space in your workshop. So, double-check if the power tools you intend to position inside your shop will fit according to your plan. Besides, it will help if you consider your lumber storage or lumber racks.
You also need to check if you got enough room for your intended workbench. You can adjust your layout accordingly if you can’t afford to give much space to a large workbench.
You should also carefully consider the storage spaces because your power tools will need one. Besides, you need proper storage for your other devices and accessories to ensure your workshop is well organized.
Another thing to consider is the electrical circuitry and lighting, aside from the room’s ventilation. It will be best that the electrical circuitry is already laid out even before you haul in your bulky power tools. Besides, you should ensure the lightings are in place before positioning your woodworking power tools.
Step 3: Acquire the Woodworking Tools and Other Accessories
Once you’ve prepped up the room or area, you can start shopping for your tools. You might have already acquired essential tools like a circular saw and hand tools. If so, you can begin storing them inside the area. You can also start storing those hand tools in the storage compartment of your workshop.
If you have a limited budget, you should invest in the essential tools that will allow you to accomplish your projects. Then, once you have garnered enough funding, you can upgrade to better and more powerful tools.
Your stationary tools will take up much space in your workshop. Your table saw, for example, and the workbench will require enough space. The drill press will also need around five square feet of floor space. Plus, it will help if you consider the operating area around those machines.
A jigsaw and a circular saw should never be missing in your workshop. You must also have a miter saw, a table saw, planers, power drills, and other essential tools. However, gradually accumulating your devices will be best so as not to break the bank.
You should also invest in safety gear like ear protection, safety goggles, and gloves. Besides, you should invest in a vacuum or a dust collection system to keep your woodworking area safe and clean for you.
If you have a limited budget, you should invest in the essential tools that will let you accomplish your basic woodworking tasks. Once you’ve garnered enough money, you can transition to more powerful tools.
Step 4: Begin Organizing Your Tools and Woodworking Station
By now, you should have a general idea of where you will position your bulky equipment, tools, and accessories. Their locations should consider the workflow within your workshop, which means you should base your layout on your workflow.
After reflecting on the workflow, you can section off the workshop floor area according to your workflow. You should section off the area where you will cut timber into usable and manageable sizes. In this area, you can shape these wood pieces.
You should now have a general idea of the layout of your workshop. Besides, you should have already plotted the overall design of your shop according to your workflow.
It will be good to note that your workbench should, as much as possible, be in the center of your workshop. This way, you can get access to it when needed, anytime. It should also be the hub around which you set your tools.
Additional Tips When Setting Up Your Woodworking Shop
Aside from the abovementioned simple steps on setting up your workshop, it will also help if you are cognizant of the following additional tips for your workshop setup:
Storage Ideas for Your Tools
Online you will find various tool storage ideas that can come in handy when setting up your workshop. For example, you can slot away your clamps and have a single place where you can store all your clamps. A couple of shelves can help you carefully keep your clamps so you can quickly find them.
You can also make PVC pipe shelves for storing your tools. Moreover, you can use floating metal shelves, pegboard, French cleat walls, magnetic strips for your metal tools, and many more.
Consider the Electrical Circuitry Carefully
If you stay traditional in your woodworking and rely heavily on manual tools, you won’t need elaborate electrical wirings and circuitry. Yet, if you use plenty of power tools, you will need excellent electrical circuitry to power your power tools.
Your electrical circuitry should provide both 110V and 220V outlets. Most of your handheld tools will use a 110V outlet. More extensive tools, however, with high horsepower will need 220V. Hence, it will be best to have 220V outlets for these power tools. For such devices, you need dedicated outlets and plugs.
Protect Your Tools Against Humidity
If your tools get exposed to air, they may rust because air can become humid. So, your storage choice will likely spell out whether your devices will get exposed to moist air or not. Rust will set in when the metallic components of your tools get exposed to humidity. As such, it will be best to protect them and choose storage options that protect them from moisture.
Shelves and wall racks will leave your valuable tools exposed to humidity. On the other hand, sealable plastic boxes and chests will help protect your devices from dust and moisture. One downside of storing your tools in chests or plastic boxes is that you will find them hard to access.
Maximize the Use of Space
If your workshop is busy, you might end up having clutter all over your workshop floor. So, when you set up your workshop, it will help if the storage spaces are easily accessible. Besides, it will be best to optimize the use of space.
You can save on space by utilizing corners for key tools like positioning and drill presses. These tools should also be near windows and doors so you can work on long wood without taking up so much internal space.
You can also get creative and go for more mobile tools. Besides, you can invest in a workbench that allows you to save space.
When designing your storage, you should also think vertically. Every inch of your workshop wall is a great candidate for storage ideas. Besides, you can utilize the ceilings for support racks, shelves, and hooks. Using these spaces can help you minimize clutters in your workshop.
Moisture and Temperature Control
If you have a workshop located in a comfortably warm area of your house, you will not have any issues with moisture and temperature. Yet, if you’re setting your woodworking shop in an unheated area, devoid of the effects of a heater, you need to install a heating system in your workshop. A heating system will help, especially in an area with extreme weather.
If you opted to build your workshop in your cellar and your cellar is a bit damp, you need to fix the problem. It will help if you prevent condensation by insulating pipes. Ensure likewise that the gutters keep water away from your house. Moreover, it will be best if you repair the cracks in the walls. Dampness should not be permitted in your workshop that harbors expensive power tools.
Storage of Your Wood
Storing wood can be a headache because wood pieces can be long and heavy and take up space. So, it will be best if you can keep your wood near the entrance of your workshop. This way, you don’t need to drag those huge pieces around your workshop.
Aim for Convenience and Comfort
As a woodworker, whenever you have a woodworking project, you will often spend much time inside your workshop. For this reason, you should keep your workshop convenient and comfortable to stay in. It should have proper ventilation to keep you from perspiring.
Your workshop should be conducive to work in. It should have an ergonomic design and space to help you work conveniently and comfortably.
You can install, for example, a high-velocity wall fan to keep the temperature of your workshop cool during warm weather. Nevertheless, you should also install an AC system to keep the dust low because a wall fan will only blow the dust all over the place.
It should also have a heater, which can come in handy during winter. Plus, it should have a water dispenser to keep you hydrated when you are sweating yourself out doing your project.
Usability of Your Fixtures and Tools
When selecting equipment and tools, you should choose those that allow for maximum usability. For example, if you are shopping around for a workbench, go for something that fits your height.
It should be the same with your tables and saws. Your circular saw should fit your most dominant hand. This way, you will not tire quickly because the tools and equipment suit your use.
Consider Carefully Your Lighting System
Although you can’t have too much light in your workshop, it is also not good to have less lighting in your workshop. An excellent lighting system will help you do your work well and prevent accidents. Besides, you can go for hanging lights which are not expensive.
It will be best likewise to choose LED fixtures over those fluorescent lamps. Fluorescent lamps tend to flicker, while LED lights consistently emit good light. Besides, they are not affected so much by the vicissitudes of the weather. LED lights, of course, are more expensive, but they could provide better value over time.
Another thing is that LED lights don’t consume much power, and you can link them together using a single outlet. Besides, the market is awash with many LED light products. Hence, you have many options to keep your workshop well-lit.
Safety Level in Your Workshop
Another important consideration when setting up your workshop is the level of safety inside it while you sweat it out and engage in your woodworking projects. As much as possible, you should consider safety when working inside your workshop.
Statistics will tell you that many accidents happen due to the use of power tools. So, ensure your power tools are well-positioned and have high safety features. Besides, your workshop should have good ventilation to keep the air inside clean.
Remember that the dust generated when cutting wood is detrimental to your health. This inhalable dust is made of silica, which is glass that can cause various respiratory issues. So, you should protect yourself from this inhalable dust by installing an excellent dust collection system.
What differentiates us, humans, from other creatures is our ability to imagine things even before these things happen. Your imagination can help you conceptualize the design and layout of your woodworking shop even before you drag in any power tool inside it. With your imagination, you can make your plan as perfect as possible.
Planning, of course, is crucial to the setting up of your workshop because, with a well-thought plan, you will not be setting up aimlessly. Instead, you become deliberate in your setup. Of course, your design should allow for expansion, yet, with an excellent design, you will never be at a loss in the setting up process.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.